Sunday, June 29, 2008

I am TamBram

About a year in the US (...a month and a half short of "one" year) has brought me at a perplexing juncture in my life where I am often left combing through thought processes in my head in search of an answer to one, cumbersome question; Who am I?

For those of you who read the last 3 words above and have come to the forgiveably obvious conclusion that I'm in some kind of a depression or perhaps clawing through a bad "phase" in my life, I'm sorry to inform you that it's not so. I'm hale and hearty, and things are chugging along in a non-depression inducing, though monotonous, manner. I have my summer classes, internship, friend circle of precariously varying size and my daily routine to keep me from falling prey to antidepressants. And now that I've made it abundantly clear that this blog is NOT the product of a mildly deranged mind, let me start from where I left off; Who am I?

For those of you who know little or don't know anything about me, here's a quick primer to my life: A 22 year old Tamil Brahmin Iyer from a very well educated middle class family (to which I am deeply attached) from Bombay that has weathered everything from glorious highs to tumultuous lows as not atypical of most (although not all) families, reasonably well educated myself ( currently pursuing my Masters of Science), happy about the way things are shaping up right now ( decent grades, an assistantship, an interesting and involving internship, an affectionate girl friend, few...but close friends) and in general, nothing to complain about as such (touch wood?). I am looking forward to working in an organization that matches my area of interest and at some point in the not-so-distant future, work towards my PhD. But beyond all of this though, I still am unable to come up with an answer as to Who am I?

It is when I live life on a daily basis, do I realize that my choice of words and/or actions guiding the decisions that I take/make are closely dictated by the values that my parents and my culture have imbibed in me over the last 21 years. What my mom used to tell me when I used to ask her for another chocolate (after she'd already given me one...or two) is what I tell myself now when I'm not sure if I'm pushing something, "Never over-do anything. Have/Use everything to a limit...only then will you value it". Likewise, whenever I used to stay up till late and my dad used to scold me telling that I would sleep at school the next day, is what I tell myself if I decide to watch a movie till late night, when I to wake up at 6.45AM the next day for work.

It is these very values that are acting as a compass for my life, steering me in the right direction. The sudden burst of freedom I got to experience the first few months in the US was the defining moment; I had taken up drinking (...about 2 cans a month...stop laughing!) and I in general decided to "live life to the fullest". But after the initial phase, I started questioning myself as to WHY I had to drink? Did it make sense to lose control over oneself under the facade of "enjoying life"...let alone PAY for it? Did it make sense to "party with friends" every single week (let alone multiple times a week!) when my aim to come to the US after spending a lot of my parents money was to /study/? I couldn't justify my actions anymore because every single time I ended up doing something I wasn't sure of, values rooted in me since my childhood surfaced. It is this process of self questioning/doubt that made me realize that I was veering wildly off course. It didn't make sense to do something just because everyone else was.

It is at this point that I realized that all of what I was made to do as a tambram kid, as much as I used to loathe it back then, is what is coming back to shape my life now. Getting up early everyday to do the Sandhyavandanam, sitting for hours in the same place doing the same thing during Avani Avittam, the simple but to-the-point nature of most of our rituals/ceremonies... have all contributed in their own ways to shape my outlook towards life.

I always used to wonder back home in Bombay what was going through people's heads when they used to say "Jai Maharashtra". To be be honest, I still don't have a clue (:p)...but yea, Who am I? I'm a and out.

*An interesting article for those who have the time and interest in perusing a typical tam-bram's nature in greater depth.*